The Outsiders House is a one-story home that has generated many stories, including one about S.E. Hinton taking a bike ride with filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola. For those who aren’t familiar with greaser turf, here’s what you should know: A house located at 731 N. St. Louis Ave. doubled as the home of the Curtis Brothers when the 1983 movie “The Outsiders” was filmed in Tulsa. As decades passed, the house was on the precipice of being lost to the ages, but, because the home has cultural value, it was salvaged and transformed into a museum full of artifacts related to the movie and the book that inspired it. The long-awaited opening of The Outsiders House Museum has arrived. A VIP ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, Aug. 9 is sold out and it will be followed by bus tours of “The Outsiders” filming locations Aug. 10-11. “The Outsiders” movie is based on a 1967 novel by Hinton, a Tulsa author. Hinton, via social media, shared a story about the discovery of The Outsiders House. Coppola to Hinton: “We found the Curtis House. My bike’s outside. Want to go see it?” “Sure,” Hinton said, thinking she would be treated to a motorcycle ride. Coppola rolled up on a bicycle. Now, hop aboard for a ride through Outsiders House history. — Jimmie Tramel
March 4, 1919 Surveying for the Ingram-Lewis Addition includes a tract that will one day be the site of Tulsa’s The Outsiders House. The area where the house sits is now known as the Crutchfield neighborhood.
The Sontag family
April 9, 1936 Phillip L. Sontag, who moved to Tulsa in 1914, and wife Margaret E. Sontag buy the property at 731 N. St. Louis Ave. for $2,750. Records, including the 1930 census, indicate there were prior residents at this address, but the property was owned by members of the Sontag family for 47 years. The Sontags came to Oklahoma during the Land Run, according to Lisa (Sontag) Kissee of Claremore, and moved from Guthrie to Tulsa. They were grocers who operated a market near 731 N. St. Louis Ave., which means the residence has been home to grocers and greasers. April 18, 1936 Nine days after the property purchase, Margaret Sontag dies of a heart-related issue at age 28 while at her husband’s store. Phillip Sontag remarried. His son, James L. Sontag, was sent to a boarding school (Subiaco Academy) in Arkansas by second wife Maude Sontag because the neighborhood around 731 N. St. Louis Ave. was rough, according to James L. Sontag’s widow, Dell Sontag of Claremore. James L. Sontag served in the Korean War and became a district judge in Nowata County and Washington County. He died in 2004.
"The Outsiders" book
April 24, 1967 “The Outsiders” novel is published. The book was written by a teen who attended high school three miles away from 731 N. St. Louis Ave.
Coppola picks the house
Circa-1982 The home at 731 N. St. Louis was selected as the Curtis Brothers’ home for the movie. Tulsa-born location manager Jim Clark said people associated with the film were “all over Tulsa” looking for the right home. “We would just drive through neighborhoods,” he said. Clark said he is given credit for selecting the home by producer Gray Frederickson, but Clark called it was a joint effort. “Francis wanted it, so I guess he did the picking,” Clark said. According to a 2005 Tulsa World story, Coppola said the house was chosen because weeds had grown up and it was located on a corner in a neighborhood where a lot of filming would take place. It was also a big home on a large lot, so film crews had ample room to work.
John Southern/Tulsa World
School serves as production office
The location was ideal because it was blocks away from
Lowell Elementary School, which served as the movie’s production office. Two families — the Sontags and the Priests — were paid for the use of the home, according to Clark. The Priests were tenants who found temporary lodging during filming.
"The Outsiders" movie premieres
March 25, 1983 On this date, “The Outsiders,” “Bad Boys,” “Max Dugan Returns,” “The Black Stallion Returns” and “Spring Break” are released. One of the movies changed Danny Boy O’Connor’s life. O’Connor was a 14-year-old New York kid who was getting adjusted to new surroundings in California. He was asked by a friend if he wanted to go to the movies. “I had no idea what I was going to see,” O’Connor recalled. The movie was “The Outsiders” and O’Connor identified with the characters. “It was the first gang that I could relate to,” he said. “I know that has a weird connotation with ‘gang,’ but when you don’t feel you are wanted at home and you don’t feel like anybody else has your best interests, we go out and we make that family somewhere else. So what I saw (in the movie) was a family that had lost their parents in a train wreck and they bonded together, not only their siblings, but the kids in the neighborhood and they became their own force to be reckoned with, their own family.”
The house changes ownership
Nov. 7, 1983 Representatives for the estate of Maude Sontag (Minnie Edoline Mrowicki and Margaret Claudine Netterville) confirm the sale of the property to Lewis Priest (pictured on the left ) for $35,000. One month later, Lewis and Betty Priest, along with Fred N. and Doris Stone, were named on a $33,250 mortgage for property. October, 2007 The International Bank of Commerce forecloses on Priest’s loan. The property is conveyed to IBC Bank following a sheriff’s sale in 2008. Priest’s son, Jerry, still lives across the street from The Outsiders House. Aug. 27, 2008 The International Bank of Commerce conveys the property to Alva and Debra Moreland for $6,000. The sale includes an adjacent vacant lot.
Tulsa World file
Bound for stardom
Oct. 11, 2015 Months before The Outsiders House re-entered the public consciousness, actor C. Thomas Howell was a guest at a Dallas pop culture convention. He was asked about the experience of shooting “The Outsiders” in Tulsa. “That was the first and sort of last time I have ever experienced anything like that,” he said. “There was a Beatlemania quality to that from moment one when we came together. ... To this day, I really don’t know why. Most of us were unknown guys. But there was just like a vibe that I have never experienced since.” Continuing, Howell named bound-for-stardom young actors who were in the film and said, “Now that I look back, I can see why because the energy that the six or seven of us (had). ... And people felt it. People knew. There was something going on, and it was real and it was vibrant and it was awesome.”
Tulsa World file photo/John Southern
Danny Boy buys the house
March 9, 2016 Concerned that the house was at risk of being demolished, O’Connor (Delta Bravo Tulsa, LLC) buys the property from Debra Moreland. According to a Tulsa County Clerk filing, the price was $7,500. O’Connor has said (jokingly?) that he cried twice — once when he became owner of the home and once when he saw the condition of the home.
MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World
Work to do
March 28, 2016 Completing a drive from California, O’Connor arrives in Tulsa to begin clean-up work. Tornado sirens went off two days later. (Welcome to Oklahoma.) The house was in such bad shape that it was gutted. Tulsans Zachary Matthews and Donnie Rich are mentioned in early stories because of their involvement in the project.
MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World
Word spreads about landmark's revival
April 2, 2016 Word begins to spread on social media that a music artist with no connection to Tulsa wants to restore a forgotten landmark. O’Connor and the Outsiders House project became front-page news. April 20, 2016 Then-mayor Dewey Bartlett and city councilors Jeannie Cue, Anna America and Connie Dodson visited the house. A message was conveyed that the city supported the renovation project. “We just want to show our gratitude, and we want to show that we Tulsans are always very friendly,” Bartlett said. “We certainly don’t consider (O’Connor) an outsider now.” May 19, 2016 A Tulsa World story about the condition/renovation of The Outsiders House said a Tulsa Daily World newspaper (dated Nov. 12, 1920) was found in the innards of the home. Is it a clue to the home’s age? Thanks to the magic of decoupage, the newspaper now is part of a lamp shade in the living room of The Outsiders House.
The Outsiders Way
Aug. 5, 2016 Street signs at the corner of Independence Street and St. Louis Avenue are changed to “The Outsiders Way” and “Curtis Brothers Lane.” The street signs are on the same corner of an intersection as The Outsiders House.
The fundraisers begin
Aug. 7, 2016 C. Thomas Howell and Darren Dalton attend a screening of “The Outsiders” at Circle Cinema. It was a fund-raising event for The Outsiders House Museum.
Additional screenings were announced after the initial screening was a quick sell-out. The weekend also included a fund-raiser at IDL Ballroom with Howell, Dalton, Billy Waggoner and Chris Waggoner. The Waggoners were child actors in the 52-card pick-up scene shot.
Danny Boy visits Will Rogers
Aug. 26, 2016
O’Connor tours Will Rogers High School, where Hinton was a student while writing “The Outsiders.” O’Connor took photos of the Hinton segment of a Will Rogers Hall of Fame display. Among other notable grads who captured O’Connor’s attention were Leon Russell, Gailard Sartain and Elvin Bishop. O’Connor visited the roof, where principal Nicolette Dennis showed him a blue-sky view to downtown and a southward view of the Golden Driller. “As soon as I fell in love with the house, I fell in love with the city,” O’Connor said.
Rob Lowe visits
March 17, 2017 Rob Lowe celebrates his 53rd birthday by returning to Tulsa and visiting with Hinton on the porch of The Outsiders House. He was asked how he felt when he stepped inside the home. “Proud,” he said. “I feel proud and grateful and humbled that I was able to be a part of something like that, and it has such relevance today.” Lowe explored the neighborhood and attended NCAA basketball tournament games at Tulsa’s BOK Center.
JOHN CLANTON/Tulsa World
50th anniversary celebration, more events
May 6, 2017 A 50th anniversary celebration of “The Outsiders” novel is held at Cain’s Ballroom attended by Ralph Macchio, Howell and Dalton. The actors visited the Outsiders House the day before heading to an event that also featured non-“Outsiders” celebrities: Stray Cats drummer Slim Jim Phantom, “Valley Girl” star Deborah Foreman and Robert Romanus from “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” Aug. 19, 2017 Romanus returns to Tulsa for a screening of “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” at the Circle Cinema. The screening was a fund-raiser for The Outsiders House Museum. Nov. 25, 2017 John Kapelos, who played the all-knowing janitor in “The Breakfast Club,” attends a Circle Cinema screening of the film. It was a fund-raiser for The Outsiders House Museum. April 6, 2018 A Tulsa Oilers hockey game is dubbed “Outsiders House Night at the Oilers.” Players wore special Outsiders jerseys that were auctioned after the game.
Tulsa World file
April 16, 2018 A commercial building permit is granted for the home. The permit noted a special exemption to allow a cultural exhibit/museum in the district. May 22, 2018 PBS christens its “The Great American Read” series. Viewers voted “To Kill a Mockingbird” No. 1 among great American reads. “The Outsiders” was voted 32. Sept. 13, 2018 Don’t underestimate the global appeal of “The Outsiders.” Australians kicked off a trip to the U.S. with a visit to 731 N. St. Louis Ave. John Obilinovic drove from Dallas to Tulsa with wife Melissa and their twin children, Laura and Luke, (in photo above). The trip to Tulsa was Laura’s idea. Asked about the appeal of “The Outsiders,” Laura said, “I’ve always like older movies. I think it’s pretty cool to see all the movies where the stars started, pretty much. And I just like the story behind the movie. It’s a family kind of thing, the greasers.”
MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World
Donations pour in
Sept. 18, 2018 Musician Jack White, after performing the first rock concert at Tulsa’s ONEOK Field, visits The Outsiders House and makes a $30,000 donation. Billy Idol, who also donated, is among music artists who have been spotted wearing an Outsiders House Museum t-shirt.
Tours take off
Nov. 2, 2018 Howell takes part in a Q&A panel at the Tulsa Pop Culture Expo, which brought the actor to town so he could serve as a tour guide for bus tours of “The Outsiders” filming locations. The tours allowed Tulsa Pop Kids Inc., which staged the expo, to present The Outsiders House Museum with a check for more than $11,000. Nov. 3, 2018 Hinton, a surprise passenger on one of the Tulsa Pop Culture Expo bus tours, and Howell participates in a “wet cement” ceremony at The Outsiders House. Mayor G.T. Bynum presents keys to the city to Hinton, Howell and O’Connor. Bynum credited Hinton for creating a timeless story about being young in America, complete with challenges, opportunities and things that pull us apart and bring us together. Said Bynum: “I think we need to go back to those things that bring us together.”
Jimmie Tramel/Tulsa World
Movie celebrates 36th year
March 25, 2019 Tulsa’s Woody Guthrie Center offers a preview of items destined for The Outsiders House Museum. A sold-out crowd showed up for a presentation by O’Connor. The event took place on the 36th anniversary of the movie’s release.
JOSEPH RUSHMORE for Tulsa World
New York teacher comes to visit
July 3, 2019 Gary Malone, an eighth grade teacher from New York, visits The Outsiders House and other sites because “The Outsiders” is part of his curriculum. Malone, who made the trip because he received a Fund for Teachers grant, is returning for the museum’s opening weekend. Check out his Stay Gold Project Facebook page.
STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World
Outsiders House Museum to open
Aug. 9-10, 2019 The long-awaited opening of The Outsiders House Museum will begin with a sold-out VIP ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday, Aug. 9 followed by two days of bus tours with Howell. Aug. 10 tours are sold out, but Aug. 11 bus tours on sale at theoutsidershouse.com.
MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World